Children Earmarked to be Sold • Part Two
These bright-eyed children were earmarked to be sold. The girls would have been sent across the Myanmar-China border and used as house-workers, sex slaves and underage labourers… the boys given to the ethnic army to become child-soldiers. According to the UN, the average age to be sold is just 12 years old and sadly 60% of victims will die before they reach 17. *1
Where these children were born, one in every three young boys is given to the ethnic army and an estimated 26% of young girls are sold. *2
The situation is almost too horrible to think about. Watching from afar it can seem as though all hope is lost for these communities, but take heart, we have connected with a local couple who are making a big difference. Meet Nathan & Rachel.
Nathan is 34 years old and Rachel is 32.
Nathan & Rachel have been married for 13 years. Even before they met, Nathan had wanted to work with people in Myanmar’s remote villages. So a few years after their wedding the couple left their home town and integrated themselves in to one of Myanmar’s most undeveloped regions; an area with no schools, no doctors, and where drugs and child-trafficking are rife.
For five years Nathan & Rachel lived in the village and pastored the people. Their hearts were moved as they saw first-hand the scores of children sent across the China border. Over time they developed a vision: to raise these children themselves, giving them an education and moral foundation, then to send the children back to their villages as leaders who can bring change. They are raising up teachers who can return to their home villages to build schools, doctors who can establish medical clinics, and social workers who can nurture parents on the brink of selling their children.
So for the last five years, Nathan & Rachel have been running a children’s home. They look after 38 children in their three-bedroom house. They have based the home in a city centre which, though far from the children’s home villages, hosts both primary & secondary schools and medical treatment.
The children are happy. They look after each other and oh, how they love mama Rachel. The daily routine is strict, but playtime is long and full of laughter. Each Saturday they travel to the forest to collect firewood for cooking, bamboo shoots to eat, and frogs for dinner.
Funding has been a challenge for Nathan & Rachel. Their home survives on sporadic donations from local friends which have only just covered the rent. Food is mostly foraged. Schooling is free, but with a student to teacher ratio of 150 to 1, the children are struggling to pass. Private tuition is the norm but this home can’t afford it. A few years ago, Nathan sold his inheritance of a block of agricultural land to continue looking after the children. That money is now running low.
During the rainy season the property and home flood.
Last year, Nathan was thrown a curve ball. Their landlord sold their property and they were given notice to move. Under normal circumstances this would be easy, but Nathan & Rachel had been renting their house for well below market rate as the home sometimes floods, and they can’t afford another three-bedroom home within their budget. Their move-out date is in March. At the time of writing they haven’t found another rental – please join with us in praying that Nathan & Rachel are able to promptly find a suitable lease.
We’re on a journey to potentially partner with Nathan & Rachel to help them achieve their vision. We visited their project twice last year and will be visiting again in April. We have to complete our due diligence before we can commit, however we’re confident that this project aligns with our heart and mission.
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Homework is part of the evening routine.
Preparing wild bamboo shoots for dinner.
Frogs caught for tomorrow’s lunch.
The children with two Hope Street representatives.
- James, Helen (2012). Security and Sustainable Development in Myanmar/Burma. Routledge. pp. 94–. ISBN 9781134253937.